Content is king. Most people intuitively understand this to be true, because we all shop online. If you can’t tell what exactly a product is since it’s missing key product details, you won’t buy it. But “content” is both a much bigger opportunity and a much bigger problem than most brands or retailers realize. Content isn’t just what’s on the product detail page.
Content is what a consumer interacts with during every step of the buying journey – from discovery, to research, to the buy button. Brands and retailers alike must meet consumers demands at every step in that journey – or someone else will.
Due to a massive shift in consumer behavior, retail is growing fastest online. In reaction, top brands are now treating product presentation on the digital shelf with as much focus and energy as they spend on the physical shelf. According to ComScore’s UPS Pulse of the Online Shopper Report, 73 percent of online shoppers said that detailed product information is the single most important factor in the search and selection process. Companies across the supply chain – from brand manufacturers to retailers – that treat content as a strategic priority will see significantly greater growth and cede less ground to smaller, online-only brand upstarts like Dollar Shave Club. To plan and optimize your content, you must understand what consumers are looking for at every moment during their shopping journey.
Discover: Consumers will search for the answer to a problem as soon as the initial need arises. APowerReviews survey showed that consumers want product variety when they begin their search. While 38% percent of consumers tend to use Amazon, 35 percent go to Google first. For both sites, the more data you provide, the more likely your product will be found. To do this effectively, your product information must include the product attributes that consumers are going to search for. Be clear about what your product is with an image, title and description. Anticipate possible questions or sorting criteria and be sure to include that data as well.
Research: Once they’ve decided what kind of product they are going to buy, consumers want to make sure it’s the best. Customers turn to sites like Wirecutter, the product review site which touts its rigorous testing process and links directly to affiliate retailers, to learn more about the products they are interested in. Last year, Wirecutter generated $150 million in e-commerce sales for its retail partners. To help capture your audience when they are researching your product, it is best to leverage review content to curate an authentic, trustworthy conversation about your product in the voice of your customer. Many brands and manufacturers also use A+ content on Amazon or WebCollage below-the-fold call-outs on Walmart.com to curate a full story of all their products’ benefits and uses. Use product family comparisons on your own site to display the depth of products your brand might have.
Buy Button: We’ve already talked about how content is king on the product detail page; if you’ve done all the work to produce good content to attract potential customers, it’s important to make sure your product looks great on the digital shelf to support impulse buys. Even in-store sales can get lost due to lack of product information. Google researchers found two in three shoppers didn’t find the information they needed in-store and 43 percent of those shoppers left frustrated.
Top retailers such as Walmart, Target and Kroger have completely revamped their product content management strategies in response to these insights. This overhaul has created a new dynamic between big box retailers and brands. Now brand manufacturers have more opportunity than ever to shape the content that describes – and sells – their products. There is tremendous opportunity in content beyond just the well-known caveats to make it good. As brands and retailers develop new ways to collaborate to meet shoppers’ demands across an endless, timeless shopping experience, content is the currency for their attention, trust, and ultimately, dollars.
Rob Gonzalez is Co-Founder and Vice-President of Salsify